Operation Homework and the ADHD Brain

Lately, I’ve been executing a wonderful new hobby into my mundane job life. I call it “operation homework.”

Being a landscape maintenance worker, and seeing as my job is “so easy a caveman could do it,” I have decided to break up the monotony by mentally engaging myself while hard at work pulling weeds or pruning trees. “Operation Homework” consists of me loading podcasts and audio books of novels and textbooks onto my cell phone and listening to them at work.

Why I Call it Homework

I call it “homework” because the stuff that I listen to isn’t stuff that I would normally set aside my free time at home to engage in. You see, I am ADHD, so sitting down at home and working on anything not highly entertaining or highly visual does not coincide with my particular ability to take in information and stay consistently engaged. I take in information best when I am moving, busy, and physically active. That being said, I can’t very well read a book while I am stuck in a palm tree pruning off dead branches and swatting away yellow flies, can I? No, but I can listen to audio books and retain the information therein.

I also refer to this process as “homework” because the subject matter that I listen to is stuff that isn’t extremely interesting to me, in general. Maybe the sociology of life in the middle ages isn’t a treatise that I am excited enough about to force feed into my brain, but it is something I would like to understand better. I have finally found a way to do it.

The ADHD Problem

Instead of forcing myself to sift through gallons of information in a textbook over the course of many weary and long hours, I can listen at work, retain the information more, and not take away from my recuperation time at night. (Add to this my sight reading comprehension issues associated with ADHD, I really am working with myself instead of against me – something I had to do for years through school and through two years of college, during which I traded ALL of my free time for a 4.0 GPA)

Also, I am able to listen to and absorb novels that otherwise wouldn’t. It might be silly to say, but I don’t like to read stuff that I don’t like to read, solely in terms of stories and novels. If a subject matter doesn’t interest me, i.e. stories about sea monsters or alien invaders, then I wouldn’t normal engage in reading about it at home. But being active while listening to these “undesired stories” helps me to focus and take in these novels, their individual writing styles, their new-to-me vocabulary, and their genre exposure that I otherwise wouldn’t be getting.

And I don’t pay a dime!

The great thing about this is that I don’t really have to pay a dime for Operation Homework. Not when I have wonderful resources such as LibriVox, an organization that constructs volumes of audio material from novels and textbooks on a volunteer basis. Free audiobooks – doesn’t get any better than free, does it? Of course, they are not going to have the latest and greatest books out, but I would, more likely than not, just read the latest and greatest books myself without incident. Having the option of delving into these lesser known materials, materials that are certainly less hyped but not necessarily inferior to mass market edition books, is still a huge benefit.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to be downloading magazines on Africa’s past, present, and future. It’s hard to believe that I can take in all of this information without having to read one single word!


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